I was standing in my kitchen, innocently making dinner. Which is something I never do--making dinner that is--so perhaps that's what invited the attack that went a little like this:
"Melania Trump is a good person. Do you know what she did?"
Scowl replaces Martha Stewart calm visage. Oh god. What?
"She handed out masks to firefighters. They are saving lives. She is helping them. She's a good person."
Cynical eye roll. Operation DO NOT ENGAGE = Failed.
"You are a terrible person. I'm calling you out, Robyn. You say not to judge, but look at you: you are judging. She's helping people. When's the last time you helped anyone?"
Operation UNREASONABLE ARGUMENT with bored 17-year old = Green light.
And it was on, moving in circular pathways, unreasonably hitting the following in a completely lose-lose situation: the "BUT, publicity stunt; BUT, lies; BUT, votes at all costs; BUT, preservation of wealth/status at all costs; BUT, it is right to be critical of what does not seem true; BUT,..."
Which was countered with "we should judge people by their actions now, not what's in their past."
Dammit. Irrational counter, but yes, point to you, little man.
___ * ___
We're in the process of painting our old house. The preparation phase has revealed dry rot lurking below the flaky paint. A friend recently pointed out that we have quite a mess, to which I smiled excitedly, "YES, we do, but now we know what's there." Weird to get excited about wood rotting. Similar to growing up in my dad's junkyard, where dusty acreage housed mangled, rusting old cars and often very broken people. I saw stories in the cars; possibilities for the used parts that could still provide use. I saw deeply troubled people trying to get by, attempting to outrun the past, and inevitably caught in defaults of vice and short tempers. But I loved them anyway. They showered me with kindness and I accepted them for who they were. It's not always a comfortable arrangement to see people as they are (looking at me square in the eye right now), but it does allow for awareness, like the dry rot in my house. I can put my finger on it, take action, or ignore accordingly. I like to strike a balance between the three, knowing that there are consequences all around. There is only so much time in the day and certainly in this lifetime.
Back to Melania.
More scowling (him), followed by silent treatment (me), and finally an apology later in the evening for tone, but not for content. He loves me (as I love him) and I'm not a terrible person (or too terrible anyway), but he was holding strong to the "it's not a good idea to judge others by their past. We've all made bad choices." Fair.
He also shared this: "I know about things and people from speeches and YouTube. I have to trust what people say to be true. I can't always understand what I read, so I have to listen."
He's a fighter and very opinionated. He is also a boy challenged with obstacles when it comes to learning and critical thinking. The vulnerability he demonstrated in this moment was breathtaking. I share it here because he is not alone in how he takes information in. He knows that he is potentially prey to the more emotive qualities of the world at large. He wants to do right. He may not always be able to access facts, but at the core, he knows what is right. We all do, don't we? No matter what our social media algorithms create for us or our political leaders espouse or the smoke in our air confuses, we know that, for the most part, we want peace and we want to do right. To not harm. To look at the dry rot within and consider what action will slow if not restore and strengthen the vulnerable material. We may not all pass out masks to firefighters (thank you, Melania), but we can do a real kindness by pausing the rhetoric (and the social media machines) and recognizing that we all have a poverty of language that gets us muddled at times.
And for me as a Robyn, a mom, Justin's super aunt, a wife, and hopefully, your friend, I will continue to keep my rose tinted glasses off and love despite it all.
"Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right."